I've tried to stay off Nick Canepa's back a little this season, what with Acee out there rewriting the book on fluffing General Managers, but lately Nick's been on his loyal game and this article is too good to let go without some rebuttal. In it, Nick says that the plethora of fan e-mails he received damning AJ for sending Charlie Whitehurst off to greatness in Seattle caused Nick to examine some of the players AJ jettisoned in the past and then make excuses for AJ like only Nick can.
Let me start by saying I don't believe for a second that Nick got any legitimate e-mails saying that the team should have sent Rivers packing and held onto Whitehurst. That's just a bullshit set-up for the usual tone of the article to follow. You know that tone? It's the, "Oh, you silly fans. It's so cute when you question the Godfather. It amuses him so," tone. I'm sure he did get a lot of e-mails to the tune of, "So why did we shower AJ with so much praise when Whitehurst is in the playoffs and Mathews spent half the season on the bench due to injury or because Norv had no idea how to utilize the running game this year?" I think that's valid. Let's delve into this lapdoggery some more, though, why don't we?
A great trade. Whitehurst never was going to be anything more than an August quarterback here.
He was efficient and didn’t screw up against the Rams, but he wasn’t Tom Brady. If he’s the answer, tell me why Matt Hasselbeck, bad hip and all, is starting Saturday’s playoff game against New Orleans. Well?
Oh, sweet burn, Nick. Take that, Chargers fans! Silly bitches, Whitehurst ain't even starting in the playoffs! I mean, sure it might have a little to do with the fact that Hasselbeck is 4-1 lifetime in the postseason and has more experience therein than any other NFC QB, but it's more likely that Pete Carrol just thinks Whitehurst sucks, right? Look, nobody wants to see Chuck behind center in Seattle more than yours truly, but you just ain't ever going to find a coach with a dismal NFL past whose willing to take a chance on a guy in the playoffs who now has one total NFL start on his resume when that coach has a grizzled postseason vet in the stable. However, if Hasselbeck looks even a little stale to start, look for a short leash there. When that happens I'm gonna write so many 'Brees/Whitehurst 2012' letters to Nicky that he'll have to quit the internet forever.
Drew Brees. There are more misconceptions over Brees than any player. Smith obtained Rivers in 2004 because Brees was awful in ’03...That Brees came back with a Pro Bowl year doesn’t matter. They’d already spent a fortune on Rivers, who was going to be their quarterback of the future. The problem I have with Smith is that he held onto Brees another year and the QB damaged his shoulder in the final game of 2005. Smith could have traded him at the end of ’04 and got something big in a quarterback-deprived league.
That's a problem we all have with the Brees thing, Nick. But you couldn't run out Brees after he helped turn the franchise around, I guess. While I understand the business decision, the fact that it was apparent that Brees would ultimately become the odd man out did show once again that the dollars and cents mean more for this organization than creating a culture of winning. The other major problem is that you will never convince fans letting go of Brees was the right move because he has a freaking Superbowl ring! That's one more than the City of San Diego has of any significant Championship.
Michael Turner. Smith should have gotten something for him (why does Bill Belichick always get high draft picks when he rids himself of players?), but there was no way the talented tailback was returning in 2008 after being franchised the year before.
LaDainian Tomlinson was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2007. No chance he was leaving then. And Turner was going to demand an awful lot of money to remain a backup.
So, you had to let Brees go to make room for the heir apparent, but there was no way you could let Tomlinson go for his heir apparent. But yeah, getting rid of LT would have been a disastrous PR move. Still, The Burner would have fit Norv's straight up and down running offense far better than Tomlinson ever did. And if AJ and his coach are so brilliant they should have seen that and sent LT off to find his fortune elsewhere rather than drag out a bitter and horrible break-up once the truth became apparent. So why didn't the Godfather, whose tail wags furiously at the thought of telling the fans to go fuck themselves at every turn, make the right decision here and send LT packing instead of Turner? After all, the fans may bray and moan, but they are stupid anyway, and winning cures everything. The reason is that this particular move, if it had backfired, is the only one that might have actually caused Smith's own inflated head to roll. You don't fuck with an institution, and that's what LT was at the time. He was TBE. That still doesn't make it the right decision to let Michael Turner go. Just makes it the safe decision.
Lorenzo Neal. My personal favorite, in that so many fans believe the Chargers’ running game/franchise/spirit/karma went south because the fullback departed after 2007. LoNeal is a great guy and was a team leader, but he wasn’t what he was when he left here.
He wasn't what he was when he left here? That's awfully folksy. So what exactly was he? A pizza delivery man? Christ, Nick, either come up with something or skip this guy. Letting go of Neal was essentially Norv's way of saying that the running game around here-you know, the most prolific running game in Chargers history-was changing. It wasn't just Neal. Shortly after he was gone, his own heir apparent Andrew Pinnock was sent on his merry way, because Norv doesn't like his halfbacks to run behind a fullback. As it turned out, he eventually had to put Brandon Manumaleuna in the fullback position at times, because our running game went kaput without Neal.
Kassim Osgood. He left on his own accord. They loved Kassim — as a special teamer. But he wanted to go to a club where he could catch passes, so he went to Jacksonville, which offered him less money than San Diego. Osgood caught six passes for 60 yards and a score this past season — and made 12 special teams tackles, his lowest total since 2006.
Of course, the torch carriers believe Osgood would have made every special teams play had he stayed here and saved the season. Please explain how a gunner could have stopped those blocked punts.
I don't fully disagree that Osgood probably should have figured out his place and relished his role as a special teamer extraordinaire. It's not like he was tearing up the receiving stats in Jacksonville and their starters don't compare to ours, so he had a chance. However, for Nick to shine Osgood's importance here is way off. Osgood was a leader on special teams and helped to keep that unit tight knit and on the same page. He may not have personally stopped those blocked kicks, but he might have helped keep those special teamers focused enough to do the job. That's how a team works.
Tomlinson. It was time. LT had a nice year with the Jets, gaining 914 yards and scoring six touchdowns. His replacements here, Mathews and Mike Tolbert, combined to rush for 1,413 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Chargers rushed for a total of 1,483 yards last year (LT getting 730), 3.3 yards per try. The 2010 Bolts totaled 1,810 from scrimmage, 4.0 yards per rush.
Yep, Tomlinson needed to go. Sooner than he did, in fact, if only to salvage his legacy in the league. As for those stats Canepa throws out. Tomlinson had more yards than either Tolbert or Mathews this season and if you combine LT's numbers with Shonne Greene's they totalled more than the Chargers backs as well, so get out of here with that weak bullshit. The only thing these stats prove is that Norv's running game broke down one of the greatest runners in the league. Another example of Norv trying to shoehorn star players into his system rather than adjusting to the strengths of his star players.
Shawne Merriman. Once a great player. Don’t know if his leg injuries ever will allow him to again find that explosion. He drove Smith crazy. Smith doesn’t like to be driven crazy.
Is anybody saying that getting rid of Merriman was a bad idea at this point? Still, we probably won't know for sure how good Merriman is at this stage of his career until he ends up somewhere that's happy to have him.
Antonio Cromartie. A magnificent athlete and latter-day Father of Our Country who had one terrific year simply because of that raw ability. It’s doubtful he ever will be a great player. His matador tackle whiff in the playoff loss to the Jets punched his ticket out of town.
Oh, snap! A paternity slight? That's better than actual analysis! The thing about Cromartie is that we always knew what we had as a player. A zone guy with amazing athletic ability which he used to take advantage of mistakes by such NFL lightweights as Peyton Manning. Cromartie is only as good as his team's pass rush (a problem he's having in NY as well), so yeah, when our pass rush went to shit, so did Cromartie. I guess I can't argue it was time to let him go, but I'd have preferred we fixed the pass rush instead. That's just me.
There you have it. When Whitehurst gets to Canton, send me more e-mails — or whatever it is the angry villagers will be sending by the Twelfth of Never.
Closing with the bold prediction that Charlie Whitehurst won't make it to Canton? Bravo to you and your giant brass balls, Nick! Bravo! I guess that's why you get paid the big bucks. Disregard all I've said, you sir are on top of the game. Go Nick!!!